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The Lookout | June 5, 2020

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Artist delivers his message with signs

Artist delivers his message with signs
  • On October 10, 2019

By Shauna Stocken
Editor in Chief

Walking along the Lansing River Trail, creative street signs instruct the public to do more than merely stop or yield for pedestrians.

“The installation is called ‘Sign Language,’” said Lansing artist Ben Graham, who also owns the company, Ben Graham Group, Inc.

“The signs are based on kind of a philosophy I have; communication defines conscience … this is my way of communicating my messages to the public, very simply.”

On a Saturday in 1974, Graham graduated from Northwestern University, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

The following Monday, he began working for an advertising agency and has continued creating artwork ever since.

“With my ‘Sign Language’ piece, I wanted to convey living a good life, and it’s really that simple,” Graham said. “The first sign is ‘Inspire,’ and it’s on a caution sign; that’s intended to tell people to dream big.”

“The next sign is … ‘Smell The Roses’ on a stop sign that is about gratitude to pay attention to your surroundings and appreciate it.

“Just down the way from it is ‘No Whining,’ and that is pretty self-explanatory: stop complaining.”

Tori LaDuke, 30, a Lansing eastside resident, said she has noticed the signs, and even photographed Graham’s work, while walking the Lansing River Trail along Rotary Park.

“Art brings diversity and culture that attract people to visit and stay,” LaDuke said. “I think Ben’s work is multigenerational … community members and visitors explore the river trail, see those signs and feel inspired.”

Graham said he is continuously creating new content with no plans on slowing down or retiring.

“People ask me that (about retiring) all the time and I say, ‘for Christ sakes, I’m coloring, why would I quit doing that?’ I’m getting paid for it and I enjoy it … I think people retire way too early when they have a lot of value, and a lot still to add to our culture, our society … old people and young people alike.”

For additional information about Graham’s work, visit,

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